Is a disappearing office key to work life balance?

studio_office_design_1There have been various attempts over the years to try and ‘encourage’ employees to adopt a better work life balance, whether it’s banning people from logging in on holiday or requesting they delete all of their emails when they return from a break.

A slightly more innovative effort has been tried by a Dutch company called Heldergroen.  The Amsterdam based design studio have an office that literally folds away into the walls at the end of each day.

Come 6pm, the desks are lifted up into the ceiling with everything on them left just as they were (albeit in the ceiling), before being lowered back into place the next morning.  The idea is that the employee then has little choice but to go home for the day.

Suffice to say, with flexible working being as it is, most employees now have the option to log-in to their work from wherever, so there would presumably be an option for them to carry on working from their home or the cafe round the corner, or wherever.

“We are able to pull the tables up into the ceiling and make the whole room into a dance floor, yoga studio, trend session, networking reception, or anything else you can think of–the floor is literally yours,” a company spokesman said in a recent interview.

You can see the whole process in action in the video at the end of this post.  Whilst it’s certainly a novel approach, I can’t help but think of it as something of a gimmick.  The tools exist now to make work something that doesn’t really require a physical base any more, so with more and more people conducting their business from outside the office, making the office vanish at 6pm may not actually worry that many people.

Of course, that’s not to say that the company don’t do various other things as well to encourage greater work/life balance amongst their employees, but it requires a systemic approach rather than one off things.  Otherwise this may simply by a more high-tech version of having desks forcibly cleared at the end of each day to promote hot desking.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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3 thoughts on “Is a disappearing office key to work life balance?

  1. Interesting. Disappearing managers would probably be more effective. I'm sure if they led by example then people would soon follow.

  2. It is true that office design can have a great effect on morale and therefore productivity. But I think it's worth investing in employees too, and especially their wellness. Free bike initiatives, good fruit and snack options in the office, and a reduction in the pressure associated with holidays and sick days. In Europe, forward thinking corporations offer 'Mental Health days' it would be great to see that in Canada!

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